Monday, April 06, 2020

White House Releases "National Strategy to Secure 5G"

On Monday, March 23, President Trump signed into law the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020. That legislation directs the Administration, within 180 days of enactment, to develop a plan that ensures the security of domestic 5G networks; provides allies with technical assistance as they work to harden their own 5G networks; and protects the competitiveness of U.S. companies, the privacy of consumers, and the integrity and impartiality of standards-setting bodies.

The same week, the White House initiated that process by releasing the "National Strategy to Secure 5G," a framework document that defines the following four lines of effort:

One: facilitating the private-sector led rollout of 5G in the United State by building upon the FCC's 5G Fast Plan and NTIA's National Spectrum Strategy.

Two: defining core security principles for 5G capabilities and infrastructure in response to potential risks, which may be economic or national security in nature. Core security principles include best practices in cybersecurity,  supply chain risk management, and public safety, and will be synchronized with other security principles, such as the "Prague Proposals."

Three: addressing risks associated with the worldwide development and deployment of 5G infrastructure by (a) ensuring supply chain security, and (b) by taking actions necessary to protect U.S. national security interests from 'high-risk' vendors (that is, those owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary that pose an undue or unacceptable risk) that build upoExecutive Order 13873 (issued May 15, 2019).

Four: working with like-minded countries to promote (a) the responsible global development and deployment of 5G technology and security principles, (b) U.S. leadership in standards setting, and (c) the availability of secure and reliable equipment and services.

5G will drive forward the economy in the years ahead. Therefore it is encouraging to see Congress and the Administration take proactive steps to safeguard next-generation wireless infrastructure and ensure continued American technological leadership in this space.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Teleforum on Modernizing Copyright Law - Audio Available

On March 31, Free State Foundation President Randolph May and I participated in a Federalist Society teleforum to discuss themes from our new book Modernizing Copyright Law for the Digital Age – Constitutional Foundations for Reform. The discussion ranged from DMCA reform, small copyright claims relief, AM/FM terrestrial radio's exemption, and the natural rights basis for copyrights. Audio for that teleforum can now be downloaded or streamed from the Federalist Society's website. Our thanks go to the Federalist Society, to moderator Prof. Adam Mossoff, and to teleforum participant Vice Dean and Prof. Michael Risch. Our new book is now available for purchase at Amazon and at Carolina Academic Press

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

T-Mobile Announces Closing of its 5G-Accelerating Merger with Sprint

Today, T-Mobile US announced the closing of its 5G-accelerating merger with Sprint. The New T-Mobile touts that, over the next 6 years, its network capacity will surge 14 times its current capacity, its average 5G speeds will be 15 times faster than its current LTE speeds, and its 5G network will cover 99% of the U.S. population. T-Mobile expects to make $40 billion in network investments over the next three years, and it plans to cover 90% of rural Americans with high-speed 5G services. 

In public comments and reply comments filed with the FCC and in other publications, including blogs, Free State Foundation scholars have described the pro-innovation, pro-investment, and ultimately pro-consumer benefits of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger. As we explained in those publications, the merger's closing will allow for a more rapid deployment of a nationwide 5G network that will pose a potent competitive challenge to AT&T and Verizon. More recently, T-Mobile's resounding victory in U.S. District Court over certain state attorney's general who challenged the merger on antitrust grounds was the subject of my Perspectives from FSF Scholars paper, "Court Affirms T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Will Speed 5G Deployment." 

Congratulations to T-Mobile on the closing of its merger and to its new CEO Mike Sievert. American consumers are now set for a big boost on 5G and a more innovative and competitive wireless market.

P.S. T-Mobile's 5G Fact Sheet for March 2020 can be found here.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Baltimore Sun Op-Ed Urging Veto of MD Digital Ad Tax

Today's edition of the Baltimore Sun features an op-ed that Free State Foundation President Randolph J. May and I wrote regarding the ill-conceived, and first of its kind, tax on digital advertising recently passed by the Maryland General Assembly.

In a blog post on March 13, we addressed the shortcomings of what at the time was pending legislation. An effort to generate additional revenues for education based upon a proposal conceived to discourage targeted advertising, Senate Bill 2 inappropriately singled out one form of commercial speech – digital, but not traditional – advertising, in violation of both specific federal law and the First Amendment.

It targeted large platforms (e.g., those that generate more than $100 million in annual gross revenues) with a tax ranging from 2.5 to 10 percent of annual gross revenues derived from "digital advertising services," unduly burdening interstate commerce – and implicating the Commerce Clause – by sweeping in revenues generated both in other states and globally.

And it relied upon an unworkable mechanism to determine when digital advertising is provided within Maryland's borders.

Nevertheless, on March 18, Maryland's legislature adopted an amended version of S.B. 2, House Bill 732. H.B. 732 responds to that last critique – S.B. 2's failure to identify accurately in-state digital advertising – by punting the question to a future rulemaking by the Comptroller. Otherwise, it suffers from all of the flaws we identified in S.B. 2.

The FSF op-ed, which urges Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to veto this misguided bill, can be found here

Friday, March 27, 2020

Free State Foundation President Randolph May and I will be participating in a Federalist Society teleforum to discuss themes from our new book Modernizing Copyright Law for the Digital Age – Constitutional Foundations for Reform. The book is available for purchase at Amazon and at Carolina Academic Press

The teleforum will take place on March 31 at 12 p.m. EDT. We are honored that Professors Adam Mossoff and Michael Risch will be joining us for the teleforum. Additional information is available at the Federalist Society's website. Call in and listen, and feel free to offer your own questions on copyright modernization reform to the teleforum panelists. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

U.S. Needs More Mid-Band Spectrum

CTIA has released a new report by Analysys Mason that demonstrates that the U.S. needs to make available more mid-band spectrum as quickly as possible if we are not going to fall behind other countries in the race for 5G leadership. The new report offers further support for what Free State Foundation scholars have been saying for many months.

First, it should be acknowledged that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's "5G Fast Plan," which includes freeing up spectrum, already has played a very constructive role and will continue to do so with regard to speeding 5G deployment. If you haven't seen it already, I urge you to watch the video of Chairman Pai's remarks at the Free State Foundation's Twelfth Annual Telecom Policy Conference on March 10.

Nevertheless, the Analysys Mason report shows the case for making more mid-band spectrum available for licensed use remains pressing. Here are some key Analysys Mason findings.

  • On average, other countries will have 5X more licensed mid-band than the U.S. by end of year.
  • On average, other countries will have 5X more licensed mid-band than the U.S. by end of year.
  • 310 MHz is the amount of mid-band spectrum needed to close the gap.
We shouldn't need a wake-up call, and I am cautious about invoking the COVID-19 pandemic gratuitously or wantonly as a basis for public policy actions. But I do think there is widespread agreement that the current coronavirus crisis has made all Americans more aware of the importance to the country's general welfare and security of having in place robust, ubiquitous broadcast networks. And there should be widespread agreement as well that the availability -- in a timely fashion -- of more mid-band licensed spectrum has an important role to play.     

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Marketplace Solutions for "Privacy Resignation"

During her keynote address (available in the form of prepared remarks and video) at "Broadband Beyond 2020: Competition, Freedom, and Privacy," the Free State Foundation's Twelfth Annual Telecom Policy Conference on March 10, FTC Commissioner Christine S. Wilson discussed the need for federal privacy and data security legislation.

Noting the existence of information asymmetries, she argued that market forces may not be sufficient to resolve concerns relating to online privacy. In particular, she highlighted the concept of "privacy resignation," i.e., "the notion that consumers rationally choose to forego expending significant time and effort protecting personal information."
Might the marketplace on its own deliver solutions to address this need?
According to NBC News, privacy may "finally be living up to its promise as a profitable business." The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) in 2019 released a report identifying over 250 companies focused on privacy technology, up from less than 50 in 2017.
While many privacy businesses tailor their services to the compliance needs of corporate clients, others focus directly on consumers.
One example is Jumbo, which has developed apps for iOS and Android that "empower[] you to take control of your privacy and security, right from your phone." Jumbo is designed to simplify user access to, and control of, privacy settings on popular platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google.
Another is Disconnect, whose "mission is to improve the internet and the world by empowering people to exercise their right to privacy."
To the extent that "privacy resignation" is a widespread issue, it creates economic incentive for marketplace participants, whether existing providers or new entrants, to fill the void.